Monday, November 23, 2015

News from the Woman Cave

Once again I'm flipping through pattern books and trying to decide on what to do for the next quilt. A few days I finished piecing the most recent project. I still have to put the quilt top together with a batting and a backing before spending evenings for the next several months hand quilting, but that doesn't count. I always have multiple quilts in progress. Or at least I used to: one being cut, one being pieced, one being quilted, and usually one being made from upcycled denim. Right now all I have is the one that I'll start quilting soon. Nothing being cut, nothing being pieced. Back in the 1970s I bought a quilting magazine (McCall's All American Quilts, IIRC) and rather recklessly said that eventually I was going to make each of the quilts shown. The quilt shown came from that magazine; I think I've done 3 or 4 others over the past 40 years. Maybe it's time to consult the magazine again.

The quilt pictured to the right will be a slightly bigger than queen-size when it's done. At this point, it's a little over 100-inches square. Whenever I work on a big quilt, I can't help but wonder how people did back in the days when houses were smaller and held a lot more people. In order to spread it out so I could square it up properly, I had to bring it down to the museum and use the empty space where our Politics and Elections exhibit is going to go. That's where I'll lay it out to do the sandwich (top, batting, back), too. Our current living quarters simply don't have any spaces big enough for me to spread things out to the point where I can see the entire quilt easily. If there didn't happen to be that open space at the museum, I'm not sure what I would have done -- wait for a calm day and spread a tarp on the ground? Tried to clear enough clutter out of the way in the hay loft to use that space and hope I managed to avoid getting bird crap on it? I've seen some amazing quilts in museums that were pieced and quilted by women living in sod houses on the prairie in Nebraska -- how on earth did they do it, especially when most of them did the quilting using a frame. I use a hoop, which solves the space issue, although it does raise questions of how to keep it clean when most of it is wrapped around me and at risk of trailing on the cat-hair covered floor.

I need to keep track of just how many hours I put into the hand quilting. I get asked occasionally how long it takes and I always guess at it -- an hour or two a night four or five nights a week for X number of months. . . I've finished some quilts pretty quickly and others have taken over a year. It would be nice to finish this one before the 2016 county fair, though, as I haven't entered a quilt in the fair in many, many years.

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